Category Archives: Education

An Israeli and Catalan team is trying to solve the mysteries surrounding the presence of 1.5 million-year-old stone balls at some sites

This collaboration is led by the IPHES and is funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation

It is presently unknown how these tools were developed or what they were used for and high-tech 3D artifact analysis will be used for this research

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Stone balls are present in some Oldowan and Acheulian stone-tool assemblages, the oldest human cultural complexes known to humankind, dating to around 1.5 million years old. Their presence has puzzled researchers for more than half a century and still, little is known about how and why they acquired this shape, or what their uses might have been. Although some in the scientific community believe that these tools, known as spheroids, were intentionally manufactured, others claim that their form was obtained accidentally through percussion activities. In addition, some researchers have proposed that their morphology must reflect a specific function, or perhaps even some kind of social or symbolic norm.

Scanned 3D image of a limestone spheroid from the ‘Ubeidiya archeo-paleontological site (Israel) with associated dimensional data.

Now, a team of Catalan and Israeli specialists will try to find answers to the questions surrounding spheroids, by analyzing more than 200 spheroidal morphotypes found in the ‘Ubeidiya site (Israel). They want to find out if these objects were intentionally manufactured using a specific operating sequence, whether they are the result of heavy use for pounding, or if they were used as hammerstones. Different experiments are planned to obtain results helping to determine whether or not spheroids are the result of a complex cultural scheme involving mental planning.

Doctoral students Antoine Muller (HUJI) and Stefania Titton (URV) at Computational Archeology Laboratory of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem analyzing digital images obtained from ‘Ubeidiya spheroids (Photos D. Barsky).

This is the aim of the Lower Paleolithic Spheroids Project (LPSP), directed by IPHES researcher Deborah Barsky (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social) and associate professor at the URV (Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona), in collaboration with the Computational Archeology Laboratory of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (CAL-HUJI, Israel) and Tel Hai College (Upper Galilee); funded by the Gerda Henkel Foundation (Germany).

Robert Sala, Josep Maria Vergès and Stefania Titton are among participating members from the IPHES and the URV (Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona), with Leore Grosman and Antoine Muller from CAL-HUJI, and Gonen Sharon from THC.

This international team aims to apply the new analytical methodologies offered by the Computational Archeology Laboratory (CAL) of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Israel) to study a set of over 200 spheroidal limestone tools from the Early Acheulian site of ‘Ubeidiya (Israel), dating to around 1.5 million years ago, with the purpose of developing a methodological holotype for future interpretations.

Conference by Stefania Titton: “The Barranco León site (Orce, Spain) and the European Oldowan” was attended by students and professors of the Department of archeology of the HUJI.

In the first phase of this project, Deborah Barsky, lead project researcher, and Stefania Titton (a URV doctoral student), recently traveled to Jerusalem to work with experts from the CAL (HUJI) to create high precision 3D digitized artifact models for the geometric morphometry study using the associated computer software, developed and provided by this institute. Also during this visit, Stefania Titton delivered a conference about European Oldowan technology, attended by members of the Department of Archeology of the HUJI.

The next phase of the project will be to experimentally reproduce spheroid morphologies using the same limestone as that of the ‘Ubeidiya site. This investigation will allow the researchers to compile computer data obtained from digital reproduction of both the archeological and experimental spheroids. This data will be stored and shared among researchers working on similar topics.

Contributions from this project are expected to provide an operative multidisciplinary methodology to define and analyze spheroids more objectively, broadening our understanding of their presence during the Oldowan to Acheulian transition in the global archeological record.

Open the pre-enrollment for the Erasmus Mundus Master’s degree in Quaternary Archaeology and Human Evolution

There are many student who after obtaining the title have found work in their countries.

The link with the IPHES allows the students to learn from the best team that investigate human evolution and acquire knowledge of the best techniques

In the master there are students from countries as diverse as Algeria, India, Thailand, Morocco, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, Chile, Georgia and Mexico

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Until next July 20th, the pre-enrollment for the 2018-19 course of the Erasmus Mundus Master’s degree in Quaternary Archaeology and human Evolution, taught at the Rovira i Virgili University of Tarragona (URV) is open. In this master participates researchers of the Institute of Human Paleoecology and Social Evolution (IPHES).

This master’s degree is taught from the 2004-2005 academic year, in partnership with other European institutions: Università degli Studi di Ferrara (Italy), Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle (Paris, France), and the Tomar Polytechnic Institute.

Since the start of the course, at the URV every year, more than fifteen new students from all the regions of Spain and from many other places in the world, including Italy, Portugal, Algeria, India, Thailand, Morocco, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, Indonesia, Armenia, Chile, Argentina, Georgia and Mexico. At the same time, teachers from places like Argentina, Chile, Georgia, Israel, Morocco and Mexico have come to Tarragona to teach their expertise, and experts from the URV and IPHES have traveled for educational purposes to these places. In these years, more than eighty students have obtained the master’s degree after presenting their final research work and after performing a mobility period in other center of the Erasmus Mundus consortium. We always look for resources to make this possible.

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The research projects that are currently being developed in Eurasia, by the IPHES, such as Atapuerca and Orce in Spain, or Dmanisi in Georgia are some of the attractiveness to students

Carlos Lorenzo, professor of the URV and coordinator of the Teaching Area of ​​IPHES, declared: “All these reasons makes the master’s degree very attractive because, in addition, there are many who after obtaining the degree they have found work in the countries where they come from”. The archaeologist himself emphasize, “The link with the IPHES allows students to learn from the best teams that investigate human evolution in different European centers. Our consortium is a great school that allows them to learn the best techniques. “In this sense, Carlos Lorenzo pointed out that the aforementioned institutions are the hard core of this consortium, but there are other collaborations with others institutions from Germany, England, different parts of Spain, etc.

The attractiveness
The research projects that are currently being developed in Eurasia, by the IPHES, such as Atapuerca and Orce in Spain, or Dmanisi in Georgia are some of the attractiveness to students. They foresee the possibility to work in key sites to develop a research about important issues in the study of human evolution, such as the different aspects that explain the first dispersions, the routes followed, the species that carried them out, etc.

 

Tarragona will host the XI Jornadas de Jóvenes Investigadores en Arqueología

It will take place from 9th to 12th May, at campus Catalunya (URV)

This conference is focused on young non doctors researchers in archaeology and its related disciplines

Registration period is still available and can be formalized here

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Tarragona will host the XI Jornadas de Jóvenes Investigadores en Arqueología (JIA) from the 9th to 12th May and the main topic will be “Migrations, resources and new dynamics”. These conferences will take place at campus Catalunya from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (URV), they are organized by the Associació de Joves Investigadors d’Arqueologia de Tarragona (AJIAT) and members of the Institut Català de Paleocologia Humana i Evolució Social (IPHES), Institut Català d’Arqueologia Clàssica (ICAC) and Institut Català de Recerca en Patrimoni Cultural (ICRPC) take part of it.

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There will be 23 sessions and more than 140 presentations in these conferences. They are focused on young non-doctors researches in archaeology and its related disciplines. The scientific results from their work will be presented and the actual situation of the archaeological discipline will be discussing along with others aspects such the archaeological heritage, its socialization and divulgation, the professional archaeology, gender archaeology, the interdisciplinary in archaeological research, social hierarchy, residential and funerary archaeology, epigraphy, restoration and conservation and the evolution of the landscape and wildlife in archaeology.

The last conferences took place in Burgos, June 2017. During this 10th edition it was noticed that the young archaeology in the Iberian Peninsula seems to be more alive than ever. An example of it is that the assistance for the last editions has been more than 120 young archaeologists coming from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France and South America.

These conferences are also sponsored by the Ajuntament de Tarragona, Tarragona Turisme, Beta Analytic, Strati-Arqueogal, CIEMAD and the Asssociació Catalana de Bioarqueologia (ACBA).

 

IPHES: The most important news from 2017

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27 January

NEW FIELD SEASON AT THE ENGEL ELA-RAMUD BASIN, ERITREA

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26 February

THE IPHES, AT THE MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2017

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27 February

NEW EVIDENCE ON THE DIET OF THE HOMO ANTECESSOR FROM ATAPUERCA

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3 March

AN INTERNATIONAL TEAM LEAD BY IPHES DISCOVERED SOME OF THE EARLIEST CULTURAL EVIDENCES FROM MODERN HUMANS OUT OF AFRICA

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Blades, bladelets and retouched pieces from layer 4 at Kaldar Cave – IPHES/B.Bazguir)

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14 March

TARRAGONA JOINS WITH ARCHAEOLOGY TO CELEBRATE A DECADE OF WORLD-CLASS EUROPEAN RESEARCH PROJECTS

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22 March

ATAPUERCA SITE WAS THE SCENE OF THE OLDEST CASE OF BISON COMMUNAL HUNTING

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27 March

AN INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS BRINGS TOGETHER IN TARRAGONA THE BEST PREHISTORIANS ABOUT AFRICA

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29 April

IPHES HAS BEEN PRESENT AT THE 86TH CONGRESS OF AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF PHYSICAL ANTHROPOLOGISTS CELEBRATED IN NEW ORLEANS

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5 May

THE RABBIT, A VERY VALUED ANIMAL BY HOMINIDS THAT LIVED AT MOLÍ DEL SALT SITE, NEAR TARRAGONA, BETWEEN 8,000 AND 15,000 YEARS AGO

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8 May

THE CHALLENGE OF REASSEMBLING ARCHAEOLOGICAL REMAINS TO UNDERSTAND LIFE IN PREHISTORY

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22 May

IPHES, PARTICIPATES IN THE 10 YEARS COMMEMORATIVE EXHIBITION OF THE EUROPEAN RESEARCH COUNCIL

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The exhibition facilitated information on the main lines of the project, accompanied by some photographs – ERC

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29 May

EDITED AN INTERNATIONAL PUBLICATION ON THE ANALYSES OF FUEL FROM THE PALEOLITHIC TO THE ROMAN PERIOD

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19 June

INCREASES THE INTEREST OF ARCHAEOBOTANY AS A TOOL FOR THE UNDERSTANDING OF PAST SOCIETIES AND THEIR ENVIRONMENTAL SETTING

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4 June

RESIDENTIAL CAMPS FROM AROUND 9,000 YEARS B.P. AND NEW NEOLITHIC HUMAN OCCUPATION EVIDENCES, HAVE BEEN FOUND IN VILLENA

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28 August

THE NEANDERTHAL SITE OF ABRIC ROMANÍ BRINGS MORE THAN 12,000 REMAINS OF FAUNA AND STONE TOOLS DATED AT OVER 60,000 YEARS AGO

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21 September

NEW RESEARCH PROVIDES KNOWLEDGE, FOR THE FIRST TIME, ABOUT THE SKELETON OF THE PYRENEAN FROG AND ITS ADAPTATION TO MOUNTAIN STREAMS WITH FAST-RUNNING WATER

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R. pyrenaica was compared with other Iberian brown frogs for a correct osteological identification

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24 november

IPHES MAKES AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE THROUGH A BLOG THE POSTERS PRESENTED AT SCIENTIFIC CONFERENCES AROUND THE WORLD

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A monolith dedicated to Camp dels Ninots, first step to enhance the attraction of this 3.1 million years old site

A tour through several panels will be offered soon to explain how life and the environment were at that time

Also an area will be built within a laboratory for in situ research and the development of the Erasmus Mundus Master in Quaternary Archaeology and Human Evolution classes

During the 2015 spring season the field work will restart

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The recent opening of a 12 tons monolith, at the entrance of Caldes de Malavella (Girona, Spain), sculpture piece by Marc Niell, has kick-started a whole series of actions that are aimed to enhance the tourist and cultural attraction at Camp dels Ninots, a site located in this locality, where important archaeopaloentological remains reaching up to 3.1 million years old have been recovered over 11 years of continuous research under the IPHES´s direction (Institut Català de Paleoecologia Humana i Evolució Social), and which are also mentioned in the permanent exhibition that for some time has been visited at Cal Ferrer, a medieval building in the old Town at the Hall Square, next to the tourist office.

The mayor of Caldes de Malavella, Salvador Balliu, highlighted the interest of the city council to promote Camp dels Ninots as a cultural and tourist attraction, which will benefit the economy of the village. In this regard, he advanced that during 2015 an interior journey will be offered to the public in the site, through various interpretive panels, it will explain and reconstruct life and the environment at the place 3.1 million years ago.

Rotonda de Caldes de Malavella dedicat al Camp dels Ninots. Ninot
Monolith dedicated to Camp dels Ninots – Gerard Campeny/IPHES

Research Areas

In this regard, it may be noted that each research area that is carried out will be detailed: geology, paleontology of large and small vertebrates, paleoenvironment, excavation methods and history of the research and taphonomy of the site. These panels have been designed and made by the IPHES.

It will also implement various points along the visit with a series of real scale sculptures of the different animals found at the site, as well as leisure and resting areas. This act has a cost of about 55,000 euros paid by the Generalitat de Catalunya, the City Hall of Caldes and the IPHES. The works have been already tendered and could begin in January.

In the same vein, the City Hall is working to rehabilitate the Castell de Caldes building together with a research center around Camp dels Ninots where a practical classroom and the interpretation of hot springs could be developed. The first floor is dedicated to a work place and the logistics of the research project on the site holded by the IPHES, and will be equipped with a restoration laboratory, work areas and rooms, toilets and kitchens, for the accommodation of the research team (about 20 people) during the excavations and the processing of the recovered material during the field work. In the future Master in Quaternary Archaeology and Human Evolution classes will be offered by the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona, thanks to the research projects with international projection that holds the IPHES.

The importance of water

The ground floor is basically designed for schools and other groups, where a simulated excavation will be included as a classroom for children, and a couple of rooms, where the importance of water in the municipality is explained through the site of Camp dels Ninots, the Roman baths and hot springs of s. XX.

The rehabilitation of the municipal building and the layout of the spaces have an approximate cost of € 260,150 payable between the Council and a grant from the Generalitat de Catalunya which has been obtained thanks to the interest of the research project.

One of the best science projects

Moreover, during the spring of 2015 fieldwork at Camp dels Ninots will restart as the Generalitat recently praised his research project as one of the best and most interesting of Catalonia and has given to the research proposal a scientific a grant of € 60,000 spread over four years.

According to the co-directors of the excavation, Bruno Gomez and Gerard Campeny, archaeologists at the IPHES, the intention for the next season is to perform a mechanical survey that reaches the base of the volcano. “It is estimated to extract 200 meters or more of sediment that will give valuable information for understanding the climate and ecosystem of the zone, and for extension, of the entire Mediterranean”, have remarked.